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Atlanta-Based Djoli Kelen Inspires Community Through African Diaspora Dance

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Djoli Kelen, an Atlanta-based non-profit organization, is inspiring the community through African dance, music and the arts. The group is also planning a big performance to wrap up Black History Month during the last weekend in February.

The group consists of artists, musicians and dancers who came together six years ago, using their creative talents to celebrate African culture.

"It started by us just being communal and wanting to dance," said Kody Kitchens, a co-founder.

"We met with one of our teachers, and he said, 'You guys are Djoli Kelen. That means one blood,' said Shannon Byrd-Crossley, another co-founder. Christan Carter-Poret also co-founded the group.

Djoli Kelen centers its work around the African diaspora dance traditions passed on through slavery.

"We really, really love to elevate our own African American culture as it relates to West African culture," Byrd-Crossley said.

Their performances include a concert every February, along with several workshops and forums, bringing all generations into their world of cultural expression.

"I'm 73. I will be 74 this summer, and African dance keeps me very much alive," said Muhjah Hasan, one of the dancers. The dance and the sound of drums are alive and well with the group, especially during Black History Month. "It's a part of us. It's the heartbeat."

"This month we are having forums centered around dance, 'Dancing Beyond the Step,'" said Byrd-Crossley, referring to the name of their upcoming performance. She added, "We talk about the elders, as it relates to the culture of dance."

They're preparing for this weekend's forum and a big performance to inspire the community. "We feel like you bless yourself when you share of yourself and we bless the community," she said.

For details on their upcoming events, click here.

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